How to Hire Staff for an Accounting Firm-Topgrading Podcast

Hiring and recruiting is never easy. Think about hiring the way you think about other key processes in your business. It is just as important to have a trusted, repeatable process to bring in good talent.

Chris Mursau chatted with us on this week’s podcast. He is the president of Topgrading an online workshop that helps you create a hiring process to secure A-players.

Chris has some helpful insight on problems you might be facing in your hiring process and of course advice on how to solve them. We also discuss how to retain those A-player staff members when you do have them.  

There are five major problems people face when hiring:

  1. Most hiring managers don’t know who they are looking for
  2. LinkedIn profiles/resumes are the main screening tools and they are seldom complete
  3. Interviews tend to be short and shallow
  4. Most people don’t verify what they heard (i.e. reference checks aren’t thorough)
  5. Online screening tools that filter candidates tend to be ineffective

To solve problem number one, Chris recommends that you start out with a job scorecard. Analyze a member of your team that you would enthusiastically rehire. Analyze and create those important qualities for a new hire based on the qualities and results of your current A-player. Avoid using all the cliché’s you hear in every single job posting. Be clear with the job expectations and requirements.

Problems two and three go hand in hand, a one-pager resume and a brief interview full of questions that start with “tell me about a time when…” do not give you a real picture of the candidate. Chris recommends longer interviews that ask deeper questions like “What are the real reasons you left your job?” The Topgrading interview structure is chronological and in depth. You want more data to see patterns of behavior over time.

Problem number four is really all about the threat of reference check that Topgrading drives home in their workshop. You need to politely mention in the very early stages of the interview process that you intend to check references. These references need to be the people that you as the potential employer request like previous managers and employers of the candidate. Candidates that have some things to hide tend to drop out quietly.

Finding the A-player candidate

Chris and I both agree, the people you want to hire are likely working right now. They are employed. It takes some effort to get them to raise their hand. A lot of A-player candidates out there who may be interested in working for you, may not know about you.

Post to the job boards, but really focus on your network. Offering remote and hybrid models is really another way to get good candidates. People are accustomed to not being in the office. Chris says to ask yourself, “Does a person need to sit in the office to be effective in this role?  If the answer is ‘No, but I like to have them here’, you are going to be missing out on a good pool.”

Chris’s retention advice:

Retention starts on the first day. How thoughtful is the onboarding, how clearly are expectations articulated?  People need to know the rules of the game. It’s important. A-players want to know what they need to do to be successful. Helping them develop relationships and having a plan to make it sticky from the start keeps people happy.

A-players expect feedback. They want to know how they are doing, how they can do better, and how they can progress in their career. Compensation needs to be market competitive. You may have to pay more. If the market has risen, you need to adjust your compensation accordingly. Keep an eye on appropriate market rates in your industry.

Tips for managing remote staff and keeping them productive:

You have to get more formal. There need to be detailed expectations with daily, or weekly check ins. There needs to be a system for checking in and creating accountability.  The right answer isn’t necessarily the easiest, but building appropriate accountability is key so everyone knows what is expected.

Chris recommended these Impactful books: Multipliers by Liz Wiseman. You are either a multiplier or a diminisher and it’s a great book for anyone who is managing people. Selling Boldly by Alex Goldstein  

Connect with Chris Mursau on LinkedIn or go to

Please watch here, or listen on the player below:

Time Stamps:

00:42 Introduction

02:53 Chris and Topgrading background

5:20 Highlights of Topgrading methodologies

12:35 What happens when you check references

15:00 Talent stats

16:50 Finding A-players

22:00 Compensation to keep employees

25:00 Management techniques for productive remote work

27:40 Recommendation for someone starting Topgrading

30:00 Book recommendations

32:00 Last bit of advice  

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